What Does Spooling Mean on Printer Status?

By William Lynch

Spooling helps manage printing jobs.
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While a helpful indicator, the printer status update can be frustrating if you're uncertain as to the meanings of the various messages. One of the most common status updates is "spooling," which typically pops up when the printer seems to be doing nothing at all. Despite appearances, spooling is actually designed to enhance printer speed and to improve overall computer performance.


A print "spooler" is a software service that manages the printing process, organizing impending print jobs in a queue for processing. While the status message will appear on your personal home printer, spooling is far more important when sharing one printer amongst multiple computers as part of a network. The spooler makes networking less problematic, tracking which network devices are connected to which ports and tracking which print job went to which network printer.


Spooling essentially acts as a print scheduler, enabling greater effeciency and ensuring network printing doesn't become congested. Once sent for spooling, the printing document no longer consumes the computer's resources, freeing you to continue working with other programs. Without spooling, you would need to wait for printing to finish before moving on to other tasks. You may also elect to delete documents from the spooler before it prints, saving the ink and paper that would otherwise be wasted on an unwanted document.


You don't have to use printer spooling. Visiting your printer's property page and clicking on the "Advanced" tab will usually present a number of options, including the ability to turn off spooling. However, be aware shutting off spooling may slow your printing and prohibit you from working unimpeded. Instead of turning off spooling entirely, you may want to consider adjusting the settings and customizing its performance to your specific needs.


You may set spooling so the printer starts printing immediately or so it starts printing after the last page is spooled. Printing immediately results in faster printing and relinquishes control back to you sooner, while waiting for the last page to spool works best for low priority printing because it permits higher priority jobs to print sooner. Another valuable option is to keep documents spooled after they are printed so you can quickly resubmit documents for additional printings. Keep in mind, however, that retaining spooled documents will eat up extra disk space.